October 30, 2011

An October Sewing Saturday

Last Saturday I was the happy host of some stitchin-n-bitchin. Or rather a sewing-chatting-eating get-together.  I was joined by my oldest Portland friend, Rebecca; my nearest Portland friend (and neighbor) Anja; and my newest Portland friend, Danielle.

Rebecca, Anja, Danielle and me

We came to the table with our sewing machines, materials, projects in mind and varying levels of skill.
I can't show what I made because it's the prototype for some christmas gifts, but I can share that it was my first experience sewing zippers, and it was so addictive that I was up at 7 am the following morning to make two more!

October 27, 2011

Painted Pottery

Last month Mike and I took advantage of a local Groupon at Mimosa Studios. It's been many years since we painted pottery together, but I always find it relaxing. Unfortunately Mike finds it very stressful. I must have forgotten that part.


One of the cool things about Mimosa Studios is that you can bring your own food and drink - including beer. This is a feature that I find very relaxing.

This is my Garden Gnome and his sidekick, Hedgehog Mushroom.

In order to complete our pieces, with three coats of every color, it took two 3-hour visits. We spaced them out over the month to prevent pottery-painting burnout.

After we finished it took about a week for them to be fired and glazed. When we picked up the brown paper bag this is what we found...

Mike's turtle turned out very well! Most of his colors were opaque (except that pesky purple). He even achieved a cool effect on the green by using two different shades in the layers (not intentional - he just forgot which colors he was using).

Hedgehog Mushroom looks like he's up to no good. 
When he doesn't want to be seen he turns his back and pretends he's a mushroom.

And Garden Gnome arrived home to realize that he's a little late for the garden. Luckily he found some pumpkins and made himself quite at home.

October 24, 2011

Hot-tubbing is in our future!

Last month Summer became Fall, and Mike scrambled to finish our hot tub "awning/cover".
This month, he wrapped it up! 

We got the back of the house painted along with all the trim work on the columns and awning.

Mike got all of the tongue-and-groove wood installed in the soffit and the edges trimmed out.

Soffit vents and lighting were also installed.

And last week we got the hot tub moved into place!

The electrician came today, and it appears that we have some additional work ahead of us, but we're getting close to our first soak in the hot tub!

October 19, 2011

Ocean Life Mobile

Last month my "aunt" Patty (also my former 3rd Grade teacher and mom's best friend) commissioned me to make her soon-to-arrive grandson a baby mobile. The theme was "ocean" and her only request was that I include a sea turtle (her son's favorite animal).

I recently designed a whale pattern, so I really wanted to incorporate that into this mobile. This dark blue whale is keeping an eye on those fish...

The sea turtle pattern was adapted from here. The original pattern was for a pincushion and I made a few adjustments to the body and shell.

The jellyfish is a combination of felt and fringe. It was a happy coincidence that the colors matched exactly, as I bought the felt and fringe separately with different purposes in mind - they happily came together to create a jellyfish.

I loved how my crocheted starfish turned out in the Under The Sea Adventure mobile, so I decided to replicate it in sewn felt. You can see that French knots were used for the spines on the front, and a backstitch was used on the back.

The school of white fish are cut from thick wool felt and accented with gold thread. It's only now that I realize that the accent lines look similar to grill lines on cooked fish.

October 17, 2011

Our Front Porch

As of last August, this is what our front porch looked like. This is actually a slight improvement over what it looked like when we first bought the house (the steps and section in front of the door were covered in carpet).
However, last month we decided that we were tired of water leaking into our basement, and it was time to demolish the existing front porch (built so that it sloped back toward the house and deposited all rainwater in our basement). We also decided that we had no personal interest in doing the demo ourselves, so we hired Rocky!

This was quoted as a 3-day project, but it actually drug out over a couple of weeks (reasons noted below). Rocky began by knocking out the existing concrete porch and steps and then built up a new form using the concrete from the old porch.

The form was then filled with more rubble, and rebar was added for structural integrity. Lastly, concrete was poured over the top and it was finished with a "brushed" look. Some of the issues we encountered with this project were:
• The porch was poured in two sections and there's a very noticeable line on the porch.
• The steps were made too narrow the first time, so Rocky came back and added an additional 18" to   the right side. 
• The area in front of the door still sloped back toward the house, so Rocky had to come back yet again to apply an epoxy patch.

The good thing? Rocky came back and fixed all of these issues without question and without an additional fee!

A marked improvement! It still needs to be painted, however that project will have to wait until next summer. In the meantime I've moved our Adirondack rocking chairs to the porch with the hope of spending some time bundled up out there this fall.

October 9, 2011

Felt Giraffe

Here's a giraffe that I made last February during that long adventure to my sister Susanna's house.

It took months to actually finish this because I wasn't sure how I was going to add the giraffe spots.  I finally found an embossed fabric at Michaels that worked, though It wouldn't have been my first choice for a color combo. I cut out the spots and used felt glue to attach them to the body.

I found the pattern online (cuddles the giraffe), but unfortunately the link is not currently active.
I adapted it by adding spots, a thicker mane, horns, eyelids and lashes. I would love to make this again, and adapt the pattern further by creating thinner legs. It will be less of a "toy" but much more realistic looking.

This was all sewn by hand out of wool/acrylic felt. The eyes are plastic safety eyes, and I added a wire armature inside.

October 7, 2011

Aprons for CHAP

I've mentioned the Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP)  before - a great non-profit organization in Portland that I've worked with in various ways over the last several years. They do all sorts of wonderful things for children in a health crisis, and as a result they have an incredible list of volunteer opportunities. My schedule doesn't allow me to volunteer during their open hours or for many of their events, but that doesn't keep me from being able to do something - whether it's creating layouts for party invitations, hosting a fundraiser or sewing aprons!

My latest project for CHAP was to sew up two aprons for them to sell at their holiday pop-up store.
CHAP provided the materials, already cut out, and I just had to sew them together - easy! It only took two evenings after work to sew them up, though it took me a month to find two available evenings. My favorite is the pink and blue one because of it's great geometric patterns. I may have to go by their store and buy it for myself.

Mike demonstrates how an apron works.
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